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Sochi Hopeful Returns to Skiing After Battle with Lyme disease

Washington native Angeli VanLaanen turned pro in 2005. A freeskiier, VanLaanen quickly got the reputation for not living up to the pressure of professional competition, mentally unprepared for the pressure. Even she believed it visiting sports psychologists to help with the problem. In reality, she was battling a disease that she was unaware she even had.

VanLaanen now knows that she’s had Lyme disease for the last 14 years, but wasn’t diagnosed until three years ago. Athletes train so hard that it isn’t surprising that she didn’t regard the fatigue and pain as a serious health issue. Through the years, VanLaanen experienced a number of symptoms including fatigue, muscle spasms, joint pain, vertigo, and back and neck pain.

When it came to skiing, Lyme disease wouldn’t affect VanLaanen’s runs one day, but be debilitating the next. She would sometimes develop vertigo, for instance, in the middle of a run down the hill.

Not sure what was wrong with her, Angeli’s aunt urged her to get tested for Lyme after watching “Under Our Skin,” a documentary covering the disease. She did, and the test came back positive.

While Lyme, if caught early, is easily treatable with antibiotics, the longer a person has it, the more difficult it can become to treat. Some people have lasting effects and will not recover completely. To return to skiing, VanLaanen had to change her very active lifestyle completely. She changed her diet and took antibiotics for two years before having an IV for treatment for six months, for four to six hours a day.

While she was unable to ski, VanLaanen created a documentary following her struggles, entitled “LymeLight.” The film has been featured at Harvard and Stanford.

Two years ago doctors told VanLaanen that she was in remission and could once again compete in the sport she loves so dearly. We at Mosquito Squad wish Angeli VanLaanen the best of luck as trains to qualify for team USA in the 2014 Olympics.

Lyme disease is often referred to as a silent killer because of its symptoms. In many cases the symptoms are the same as you would have with something like the flu and often goes undiagnosed as a result. Checking for ticks and being vigilant in the seasons when ticks are most active is the best way to fight Lyme disease.

When it comes to protecting yourself from Lyme at home, professional and effective tick control is one way to do it. At Mosquito Squad, we use a combination of a spray and tick tubes to decrease the tick population on your property. If you have questions regarding spraying for ticks, please contact your local Mosquito Squad location.

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* Tick control not available in MI without a license

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